More than all Burnt Offerings and Sacrifices

Mark 12:33-34
“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

While we no longer literally offer burnt offerings and sacrifices we still do it in type. Many times I might rather love my neighbor, whoever that might be, from a distance rather than up close and personal. Just allow me donate some money for their cause, or pray for them, anything, but don’t make me become personally involved in their lives. Most of us like our own space and some of us like to be around friends and family, but even that has its limitations. How much time do I have for my neighbor, those people that I encounter in my daily life, business or work? Many times we might think to ourselves, “You know, I have enough problems of my own, I don’t need to get involved with someone else’s.” If we love ourselves enough to care about our problems, our needs, our wants, desires and goals in life, then aren’t we mandated to care about the similar needs of others as well?
Most of us would agree that in a world where every time you turn around someone wants to sell you something or ask you to contribute something we begin to become rather cold and callused. We build these walls to try and keep these people out. It is true, we can’t be everything to everybody and we do only have so many resources, still, are we loving our neighbor as ourselves? All of the things that I do for me, am I willing to do them for someone else? Personally, I am not a real people person and the majority of the time I am quite content and comfortable to be by myself, doing my own thing, but can I really love my neighbor as myself from that position. Loving others is always stretching us. It causes us to move out of our comfort zone. It causes us to come out of the place of just making the token efforts of the burnt offerings and sacrifices and requires me to get involved. Jesus was involved with those around him and not just with the upper crust, the easy to get along with, the likeable or the ones that could benefit Him. He was relating to humanity at all levels, classes, sexes and races. He would relate with children and adults alike, to the whole and the broken, rich and the poor and to the sinner and the righteous. Jesus was not a respecter of persons and He was sensitive to the heart cry of people. There are a lot of people out there that just want to take advantage and use others. This tends to make us wary and cynical, but the Lord wants us to tune into the heart cry of others. Listen, by the Spirit to the real need in people. It often isn’t what we see being portrayed on the outside or in their actions. We need a spirit of sensitivity, not to be duped by everyone that comes along, but to see into the heart need of others.
As the ambassadors and representatives of Christ in this earth we are the channels of God’s blessing, healing, restoration and reconciliation. If we don’t take the time and make the time for the needs of others, then who will. If I want someone to love me, be sensitive to my needs and to just care then that is the love I need to be extending to others in whatever capacity I have to give it. It isn’t the religious gestures that I make and the token giving that the Lord is looking for. He is looking for my heart to be one with His heart in me. He desires me to love Him through the way I love others, through a heart that is really caring and concerned for the needs of others. So often we are like the Scribe, the Pharisee, “the Christian”, who walks to the other side of the road when we see our neighbor in need. We don’t want the inconvenience and the investment of our time and resources to get involved. If my neighbor is important to the Lord, then they have to become my priority also. We have to remember that our mission in the earth is not about us, it is about Him through the way that we serve others. Loving God and loving our neighbor are all part of the same pie.
“Lord, give us sensitive hearts and eyes to see into the real needs of others and to make ourselves available and willing to minister to those needs in what ever way we can. Give us your heart to really love others as we would love ourselves, not from a distance, but up close and personal. Help us to truly be the extension of your compassion, love and grace. May the world truly know us by our love and not just by our name and religion. Allow us to be willing to pay the price of the personal sacrifice required in the giving of ourselves and that which cost us personally to love You with all of our hearts; to love our neighbors as ourselves, no matter who they may be.”

Blessings,
#kent

Abiding in the Vine

January 27, 2015

Abiding in the Vine

1 John 2:24
Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.

John, the apostle and disciple of Jesus, was very passionate about certain things. Two of the things he is most passionate about is love and relationship. I believe John was a man of the heart and when he committed his love to you it was constant from then on. One area of emphasis is the place of “abiding”. This word speaks of a place where we remain; we don’t depart from, we continue to be present. It is a place we last and endure in and a place where we survive and live. It speaks of a state or condition that is constant and a place where we wait for someone. This concept of abiding is one that Jesus is passionate that we catch a revelation of.
Abiding is a two way street. It is a place of exchange of living and giving, and loving and receiving. That place where we live and abide in our heart is the key to what our life produces. Jesus shares the reality of this truth in John 15: 1-8, ““I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” Our place of abiding in Christ is the place where we grow up into Him in all things. It is the place where He loves us, trains us, corrects us and prunes us. It is the place where He makes us productive and fruitful with regards to the kingdom. It is the place where we learn that our life is one with His and the blood that flows in Him, flows in us. We are of one life and one nature as we abide there. If or when we sever and separate our life from His then that fellowship and circulation of His life ceases to work in us and we begin to spiritually die. Outside of Him we perish spiritually.
God is a God of mercy and restoration and I believe that through repentance and the redemption of the blood we can be restored should we leave this place of abiding. Many of us may have walked away from Christ for a time, but hopefully all of us realize how dead we are inside without His life and fellowship. It is in the place of abiding that we are living in eternal life, for we are living in Christ. 1 John 2:1-2 tells us, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” 1 John 1:9 has told us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” There is a place and provision for restoration when we fail, but our heart should be that we don’t want to fail Him. 1 John 2:17 tells us, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” Our abiding in eternal life is our abiding in obedience to the will and purpose of God. 1 John 3:6-9 tells us about the state of the believer in that place of abiding, “Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” Our continual abiding in Christ is going to make us want to be like Him in every way. We are learning to love what He loves and hate what He hates. We are being conformed to His mind and transformed into His likeness from glory to glory. It is a process and a maturing, but it takes place as we abide in Christ.
It is important that we connect in our understanding our unity and oneness with Christ, if we are always seeing ourselves as outside of and apart from Christ then we always see ourselves separate and detached from Him. While our unity and oneness may not be in the manifest glory that it one day will be, we are robbed if we see ourselves as anything but one with Him. Otherwise we are trying in our efforts to live Christian lives and looking to heaven for God to help us. He has helped us sometimes more than we comprehend or have revelation of. He has placed His life in us and our lives are in Him so that we might live out of Christ and unto Christ. He is our being, we have become identified with His life in us, and we have disowned and are putting to death the former man that we were before Christ. We have to always remind ourselves that we are dead to our former identity and now our identity is in Christ where we abide in His love and His life. Lay hold of the truth of where you live, abide and have your being in Christ. It is Christ in you and His love that now lives through you as you abide in Him.
“These things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” 1 John 1:9 has told us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” There is a place and provision for restoration when we fail, but our heart should be that we don’t want to fail Him. 1 John 2:17 tells us, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” Our abiding in eternal life is our abiding in obedience to the will and purpose of God. 1 John 3:6-9 tells us about the state of the believer in that place of abiding, “Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” Our continual abiding in Christ is going to make us want to be like Him in every way. We are learning to love what He loves and hate what He hates. We are being conformed to His mind and transformed into His likeness from glory to glory. It is a process and a maturing, but it takes place as we abide in Christ.
It is important that we connect in our understanding of our unity and oneness with Christ, if we are always seeing ourselves as outside of and apart from Christ then we always see ourselves separate and detached from Him. While our unity and oneness may not be in the manifest glory that it one day will be, we are robbed if we see ourselves as anything but one with Him. Otherwise we are trying in our efforts to live Christian lives and looking to heaven for God to help us. He has helped us sometimes more than we comprehend or have revelation of. He has placed His life in us and our lives are in Him so that we might live out of Christ and unto Christ. He is our being, we have become identified with His life in us, and we have disowned and are putting to death the former man that we were before Christ. We have to always remind ourselves that we are dead to our former identity and now our identity is in Christ where we abide in His love and His life. Lay hold of the truth of where you live, abide and have your being. It is Christ in you and His love that now lives through you as you abide in Him.

Blessings,
#kent

Tenderhearted

May 10, 2013

Tenderhearted

2 Kings 2:19
Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard [thee], saith the LORD.

What is the condition and state of my heart today? As you and I ask that question of ourselves today, what is the true answer? Through our life experiences, choices and decisions, we can find our heart in many different states. It can become hardened because of sin and willful living. It can become broken from abuse, disappointment and hurt. It can be elated with life and living or it can become cold and unfeeling. Life and experiences can have a lot to do with shaping the condition of our hearts, but so can the choices we make with what comes to us in life. It would be safe to say that no matter what befalls us in life our safe place is a place of a tender heart before the Lord. That is the condition of the heart that touches His heart.
Sometimes life can be so devastating that we feel like we are like a tree that has been cut down and all hope of life is lost. Yet even Job, in his state of abject suffering and loss makes this statement in Job 14:7-9, “For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; [Yet] through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.” I believe a tender heart toward God is our hope in every circumstance of life. Only the Lord can take that which bad and turn it for good. Only He can bring life out of death. Only He can take the crushed grapes of our life’s sufferings and trials and make sweet wine. James 5:11 makes the observation about the condition of God’s heart toward us when we continue in a place of obedience and tenderness before Him. “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”
Jesus is the Rock and it says that with Him one of two things can happen, either we are broken upon the rock through a tender and repentant heart or we become broken by the Rock through a rebellious and hardened heart. What is the state of our heart today?
Isaiah 66: 1-2 says, “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven [is] my throne, and the earth [is] my footstool: where [is] the house that ye build unto me? and where [is] the place of my rest? For all those [things] hath mine hand made, and all those [things] have been, saith the LORD: but to this [man] will I look, [even] to [him that is] poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” The Lord is looking and desires above all our sacrifices and the works of our hands that our hearts are right and tender before Him. If He is ever going to manifest His presence and perform His works through a people, it is going to be a people who have a tender and contrite heart before Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of [them] whose heart [is] perfect toward him… “No matter what life has dealt us let our hearts become tender, broken, pure and right before the Lord. This is the condition of heart we need to have in order to experience His visitation and presence. This is the place where we find the rest and the true fast of God. This is the ground that is broken up and is ready to yield the fruit of His divine life.

Blessings,
kent

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